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Rethinking Black German Studies

Approaches, Interventions and Histories


Edited By Tiffany N. Florvil and Vanessa D. Plumly

Black German Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has experienced significant growth over the past three decades, integrating subjects such as gender studies, diaspora studies, history, and media and performance studies. The field’s contextual roots as well as historical backdrop, nevertheless, span centuries. This volume assesses where the field is now by exploring the nuances of how the past – colonial, Weimar, National Socialist, post-1945, and post-Wende – informs the present and future of Black German Studies; how present generations of Black Germans look to those of the past for direction and empowerment; how discourses shift due to the diversification of power structures and the questioning of identity-based categories; and how Black Germans affirm their agency and cultural identity through cultural productions that engender both counter-discourses and counter-narratives.

Examining Black German Studies as a critical, hermeneutic field of inquiry, the contributions are organized around three thematically conceptualized sections: German and Austrian literature and history; pedagogy and theory; and art and performance. Presenting critical works in the fields of performance studies, communication and rhetoric, and musicology, the volume complicates traditional historical narratives, interrogates interdisciplinary methods, and introduces theoretical approaches that help to advance the field.

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2 Here to Stay: Black Austrian Studies (Nancy P. Nenno)


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2 Here to Stay:1 Black Austrian Studies


As was true of Black German Studies, the historical context of the diverse ‘roots and routes’ of the African diaspora helps to define the field of Black Austrian Studies. However, burgeoning interest in historical individuals, such as Angelo Soliman, as well as reactions to the recent influx of asylum-seekers, often elides the voices of Black Austrians. This essay seeks to redress this erasure by examining two recent events in which Black Austrians intervened in the public discourse. Poet Chibo Oneiji and author Charles Ofoedu recorded the reactions of the Black Community to the brutal death of asylum-seeker Marcus Omofuma during his deportation in 1999. Seven years later, the counter-historical project ‘Verborgene Geschichte/n – Remapping Mozart’ mounted public installations depicting repressed Austrian histories. By undermining the ‘white-washing’ of Austrian identity, these events demonstrate how Black Austrians are claiming their status as agents of their own history.

In the summer of 2016, the Volkskundemuseum [Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art] in Vienna hosted an exhibition entitled ‘SchwarzÖsterreich. Die Kinder afroamerikanischer Besatzungssoldaten’ [‘Black Austria. The Children of African American Occupation Soldiers’]. A collaborative effort ← 71 | 72 → between the creators of the exhibition and members of the oral history project ‘Lost in Administration’ at the University of Salzburg,2 the aim was twofold: ‘to be able to present an additional group from Austrian society’ and ‘to participate in writing...

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